Microlearning and eLearning Localization: How They Work Together

Microlearning is a term that we have heard from many of our friends in the eLearning, training, and talent development industries.  Therefore, we decided to take a closer look and see how this relates to eLearning localization.

What is microlearning?

Microlearning is often referred to as a learning “nugget” about 3-5 minutes long that meets a specific learning objective. Content is taught and delivered to learners in small, specific bursts. Mediums used are often short videos, short assessments or quizzes, real-world exercises, and gamification. Also, learners can access this content on multiple devices – smartphones, tablets, desktop computers, laptops, etc.

Why is microlearning growing?

A lot of articles reference a 2015 study from Microsoft Corporation on attention spans. Human attention span is decreasing. Though the study addresses marketers, these same ideas have been applied to today’s learners. Businesses and organizations must adapt training to their audience. We like to say that today’s global business environment creates a need for localized training. The same applies here. Adapting training leads to effectiveness and retention.

Then, there is accessibility. According to the Pew Research Center, seventy-seven percent of Americans own a smartphone. Globally, the growth of smartphones is leveling off in the United States and Europe, but it is growing in emerging markets, according to TechCrunch. Microlearning is offered to learners on their preferred device whenever they need it.

Benefits for eLearning Localization

Cost and Time Savings

Content is delivered in shorter bursts. Less content usually means less cost. If it costs less to develop the eLearning, it will also cost less to localize the eLearning. In addition, microlearning content is often easy to update. This same concept translates (pun intended) to updating localized courses. If it was easy to develop, chances are it is easy to update (no matter which language version). This allows for eLearning to be available for multiple language markets in a shorter amount of time.

Localization-Friendly Design

This article from Allen Interactions provides six characteristics for good microlearning design. These characteristics emphasize short, effective sessions. We like to emphasize the importance of creating localization-friendly content. (See our previous post “5 Common eLearning Localization Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them!).) Our advice is to stay away from wordy, complex sentences whenever possible. Microlearning content fits that bill!


In the same article referenced before, the author says that microlearning design should feel “relatable and personal.” In the context of global eLearning, this is where localization comes in. When incorporating real-world exercises and examples, it is essential that these apply to global learners. Using in-country native speakers can help with this process.


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